In 2012, Southwestern Seminary accepted a challenge from the International Mission Board (IMB) to adopt an unreached people group—the Antandroy people of Madagascar. In the five years since then, Southwestern has sent teams to the remote island off the African coast to share the Gospel with the Antandroy. This summer, Southwestern laid the groundwork for a leadership training institute and future seminary to be located in the coastal city of Fort Dauphin.

God is working miracles and changing lives there, says Dean Sieberhagen, assistant professor of missions and Islamic studies at Southwestern, who was born and raised in South Africa. “On one of the Southwestern trips to Madagascar, we were in Fort Dauphin and were asked to lead an English Bible study that met in an English center on Friday afternoons,” Sieberhagen recalls. “Out of about 15 students, there were only three or four believers.”

They studied John 11:25, in which Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies.” Through the discussion, the group concluded that there are two births that a person can have—physical and spiritual.

“I told how I was saved and said I was 49 physically and 38 spiritually,” Sieberhagen says. “A few other believers shared their stories.”

Sieberhagen then asked a student named Bosco if he had had two births, and he said he was not sure. “I used Romans 10:9 to explain how the spiritual birth involved believing the Gospel in your heart and confessing it with your mouth, and that he could confess it with his mouth right there if he believed it in his heart,” Sieberhagen says. “He said he wanted to do this, and so I led him in a salvation prayer.”

When Bosco finished, the student next to him said he also was not sure, and Bosco asked if he could lead the prayer with this other student. “After they had prayed, another student at the back said he had also not been sure, and so he prayed with him,” says Sieberhagen. “So right then and there, we had three new believers, and Bosco has been helping to lead that Bible study each Friday for the last two years.”